Lightning Strikes Twice: Part 2

So yeah, first day for a twice weekly update and it’s later than I intended. That bodes well. Mind you it was mostly finished Sunday. I just didn’t have time to upload it.

Incidentally, here’s something for my near term “to do” list–arrange things so that the next and/or previous post is listed at the top or bottom of the page. Unlike some people writing, I’m a web developer (programmer/sysadmin) and therefore have no excuse.

“He doesn’t,” Cassie said. “Just the opposite, the family’s had to live with this for years and Vaughn told me he’d like a chance to make things right.”

I considered making a sarcastic comment about how the Hardwicks have suffered, but didn’t. Still, it’s hard to make a good case for shame damaging a family that owns half the city. Well okay, maybe not half the city, but they’ve got a lot of money.

Back in the 19th century, they were lumber barons. In the 20th they’d invested their money in manufacturing cars and office furniture. In the 21st they are funding research in biotechnology from pharmaceuticals and genetic engineering to nanotechnology. Already in the 1930’s and 40’s, the Hardwicks were considered an “old money” family for the area.

Red Lightning (Giles Hardwick) had done the “rich citizen protects the city” thing starting just before World War II and then somehow ended up in the same “super soldier” unit as Captain Commando, Hotfoot (Jaclyn’s grandfather), and my grandfather.

“Alright,” I said, “let’s say that he does want to make things right. How’s he going to do it? Red Lightning’s powers only worked when he was juiced up with that stuff he made… What was it?”

“Spinach?” Jaclyn suggested, softly singing a bit of Popeye’s theme song.

I laughed.

“Not funny,” Cassie said.

But she’d laughed too.

“It was called the ‘Power Elixir’,” Cassie continued, talking over Jaclyn’s and my laughter. “I know it sounds stupid, but Vaughn’s not planning on using that. Vaughn’s planning on using the machine that made Red Lightning’s powers permanent. The… ‘Power Impregnator’.”

She stopped and looked at us warily.

We weren’t laughing.

The moment Red Lightning managed to make his powers permanent is the moment a lot of things began to go wrong for the Heroes League. I wasn’t around for it. I wouldn’t be born for more than twenty years, but I had heard a few things from my grandfather.

When I asked him directly, he would only say, “I don’t like to talk about it.”

From comments he made while I was growing up though, I’ve got a general picture of the events leading to Red Lightning’s death. When my grandfather and Red Lightning finished the Power Impregnator, it freed Giles (Red Lightning) from carrying vials of liquid that always seemed to break at the worst moment. Giles had been growing distant from the team for the a couple years before that, but afterward (at least for a little while), it was like it had been during the war—a bunch of guys standing up to whatever the world could throw at them.

I’m not sure of the details, but within a few years superpowered gangs began to appear—well organized gangs that were unnervingly capable of not only avoiding, but also predicting the Heroes League’s every move. It had to be an inside job. Suspicion fell on everyone in turn, but the Mentalist, Daniel’s grandfather, discovered that the gangs had gained their abilities by ingesting an addictive drug similar to the Power Elixir.

After that, it turned into all out war between Red Lightning and the League—a war the League won, but not easily.

“So,” I asked Cassie, “where is the Power Impregnator these days?”

“I don’t know. I guessed it must be in storage or, maybe… Red Lightning’s lab?”

I shrugged, adding, “I’ve got no idea where that would be.”

Strictly speaking, that answer wasn’t even a lie—I really didn’t know where Red Lightning’s lab had been. The comically named “Power Impregnator,” however? That was in a cardboard box about 30 feet away, sitting in the corner of the main room next to twenty other boxes of memorabilia.

I’d never been so grateful not to have Daniel around.

“Nick,” Cassie said, “would you just talk to Vaughn tomorrow?”

“Sure,” I said.

Remembering the letter in my hand, I finished opening the envelope and scanned the letter’s contents. “Hey,” I said, “get this, someone wants to sell us life insurance.”

10 thoughts on “Lightning Strikes Twice: Part 2”

  1. Nice development. I get the feeling Nick doesn’t really want Vaughn to be a part of the group. It will be interesting to see what happens next, especially since Nick seems to own the Power Impregnator.

    Can’t wait for the next installment… It’s so cool that you’re updating twice a week now.

    ~Cindy

  2. Howdy Jim,

    Enjoying the story. And I remember Larry!

    I agree with you that links to previous (and next) installment would be very helpful, especially now that you’re sometimes splitting a single conversation between updates. (That is, I wish for a convenient [not clicking through the archive] way to refresh my memory by reading the last bit of story before reading the new piece.)

    –James

  3. Hey James…

    With regards to Larry… Yeah. You’ll probably see a few characters that I never felt that I’d used to their full potential. The characters are the only overlap though.

    You know, I wasn’t even thinking about people referring back to previous posts. I was mostly thinking of potential new readers. Currently there’s no way to just read straight through the archives without continually pressing the back button and finding the next post on the index (or an archive) page.

    Cindy: In an ideal world I’d update daily, but I know that I don’t have the time for that–not unless I wrote really short posts. Still, updating twice a week is a good thing by itself, I think. People forget less between each installment (I hope).

  4. Okay, seriously, you MUST pack this up and make it into a movie, miniseries, cartoon, a Marvel comic, something.

    This is gold! And I haven’t missed you skillful use of tropes; so many webserial authors just rehash them, you add…spice.

    And what have we here, our very own Anakin/Luke Skywalker storyline; complete with the formerly good hero who turns to the Dark Side, and now we have his grandson trying to redeem the family name. Or is he?

    Dude, please, write Sci-fi channel and make a deal.

  5. Funny thing about using tropes/archetypes…

    My early efforts in writing/storytelling were hampered by recognizing tropes and deliberately not using them. It lead to original ideas that were completely impossible for the reader to enjoy.

    Since then, I’ve tried to not think about whether I’m using them or not.

    Except sometimes I think about it and deliberately twist it.

    As for getting this somewhere beyond the webpage… I’ve no idea where to start, but I’d like to.

  6. I may be nine years late to the party, but I just started reading this and I’m really impressed. Speaking as a superhero web serial novelist who’s just started doing weekly updates, it’s great to see you’ve made such a success out of doing an old-fashioned superhero story over such a long period of time. Keep up the good work, man!

    1. I don’t know how much of a success I am, but I know that people are reading the story and have been willing to help me get it printed.

      That’s enough, and more than I could have hoped for at first.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying it. For what it’s worth, probably the best thing you can do is write well, continue writing and be consistent about updates. After that, it’s all up to chance and your marketing skill.

      1. Yeah, it’s the marketing part I suck at. Asides from bugging friends and relatives to vote for Gamer Girl on Top Web Fiction and getting views that way, I have next to no clue on how to get readers.

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